"I'm harder than any alcohol you can drink. I'm straighter than any line you can snort up your nose. And I certainly can hurt you a lot faster than any pill you can put on your tongue."
CM Punk is one disciplined cat. As his athletic physique indicates, the World Wrestling Entertainment superstar hits the gym with regimented fervor. And as his above quote implies, he's vehemently straight edge. Nary any drugs or alcohol have ever been ingested by the 31-year-old professional wrestler (who's participating in this Sunday's WrestleMania 26 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale).
Like those kids in your high school who listened to Minor Threat and drew "sXe" on their arms with magic marker, CM Punk is a long-time aficionado of punk and hardcore music and a fervent devotee to the straight edge lifestyle. Popularized by such old school punk bands and musicians as State of Alert, Ian MacKaye, and Stalag 13, the practice includes abstaining from drugs, alcohol, smoking, and (depending on who you ask) even sex.
It's become a big trademark of CM Punk's WWE character, since -- as any wrestling fan will tell you -- reality often times makes for awesome soap opera drama. He's been taking it to the extreme over most of the past year, becoming something of a fanatic about being anti-drug, pompously preaching to wrestling fans about their weak wills and becoming the cult-like of the "Straight Edge Society."
CM Punk dropped the pontification for a few minutes, however, to speak with New Times recently about the popularity of straight edge, his favorite bands, and his match with Rey Mysterio this Sunday at WrestleMania 26.
New Times: Do you have a lot of fans amongst punk and hardcore fans because of your straight edge lifestyle and character?
CM Punk: I think I do. I think everybody loves wrestling [and] it doesn't really matter what music you listen to. There's definitely hardcore kids who pay attention to what I'm doing.
NT: Straight edge was extremely popular back in the 80s with Minor Threat and then again in the 90s. Do you think the straight edge lifestyle has diminished?
CM: No, I don't think it has. Because I think people that are true to it still are straight edge. I think just like everything it's a cycle. It boomed in the '80s when it started, it kinda died out and got big again '80s again with the [Youth Crew] movement, and then it kinda died out yet again. And Earth Crisis brought it back in the '90s, and it kinda died out again. And now you've got bands like Ceremony and Have Heart. It's a cycle. I definitely don't think it's not as prevalent in mainstream, but the scene has always been there and it's always gonna be.
NT: Still listen to a lot of punk and hardcore?
NT: What have you been listening to lately?
CM: I will never ever stop listening to Rancid, H2O, Bouncing Souls. I'm kind of a stubborn old straight edge guy, and it takes me awhile to get into some of the new straight edge bands, like Ceremony or Have Heart. But I've got so many friends that are in bands involved in the scene and they keep me up to date on stuff, it just takes me a little while to pay attention to them and listen to what they're telling me to listen to.
NT: Are there any songs in particular that inspire you?
CM: Too many to name, honestly. I definitely use my iPod as motivation in the gym though, to get me through the hours of cardio and lifting and all that other stuff. Definitely always listening to music.
NT: What are your top five bands of all time?
CM: Oh my god! Top five bands of all time? (whistles) That's a big deal. This is knee-jerk list, definitely nothing that's concrete and it'll probably change the instant I hang up the phone with you. In no particular order: The Clash, Misfits, Faith No More, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Minor Threat.
NT: Do you still go to shows, or given your celebrity and prominence is that hard to do that?
CM: The only reason it's hard for me to do that is because I'm on the road all the time, so I really don't get to go to shows. I am extremely stoked because we're doing San Francisco this Sunday [NOTE: This interview took place approximately two weeks ago.] This is probably going to go to print after the show, but I'm going to a Cro-Mags/H2O show.
NT: Are you looking forward to WrestleMania?
CM: Oh yeah, very much so. I'm looking forward to stealing the show. And letting everybody know that that's exactly what I plan to do.
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NT: Rey Mysterio is an extremely talented cat. Is he a good partner to work with in the ring?
CM: Yeah, I think me and Rey have chemistry. I've known Rey for...geez, I'm an old man, almost 10 years now. We've wrestled a couple times, and we haven't really been able to showcase exactly what it is we can do. We've barely scratched the surface.
NT: Will it be better than the match you had against Rey and Eddie Guerrero on the indie circuit in 2002?
CM: I don't know if it will be better. That one def has a place in my heart, obviously because Eddie was involved. I think it's a great match that still holds up today.